In the middle of afternoon classes Thursday, all students and faculty in Tucker Hall were forced to evacuate when a fire broke out on the second floor.
Around 2:50 p.m., the fire department and the Florida A&M University Police Department received calls reporting a fire in the second floor men’s restroom.
Within a few minutes, police officers and fire fighters were on the scene.
As a crowd of students and employees gathered in between Tucker Hall and the Gore Educational Complex, fire fighters and investigators were inside controlling the flames and trying to figure out how the fire was started.
A FAMU PD officer said someone set fire to some toilet paper in the bathroom.
Maurice Johnson discovered the fire after he stepped out of his class on the third floor of Tucker Hall. Johnson, 21, was in the east stairwell when he heard a teacher and student talking about smelling smoke.
When Johnson entered the restroom on the second floor, all he saw was darkness.
“As soon as I opened the door, (a lot of) black smoke came pouring out,” said Johnson, a senior magazine production student from Newport News, Va. “I couldn’t see any flames; it was total darkness.”
At the time of the fire, many people did not know there was actually a fire in the building, so some people were hesitant about evacuating.
Some students thought that the ringing alarms were just a part of a fire drill, but the smell and sight of thick, black smoke made it clear that there was a fire in the building
“As usual, everybody moved very slowly as we were going,” Kemp said. “There was a lot of smoke in the hall.”
Once the fire was extinguished and the smoke had cleared, Lt. Bernard Barrington of Station 3 said the fire was contained and there was not much damage to the building.
But Barrington could not say much more.
“At this point in time, the fire is still under investigation,” Barrington said. “It was just confined to the second floor men’s bathroom; it didn’t extend anywhere else. There’s nothing damaged or no one hurt.”
After surveying the bathroom, he said most of the damage was caused from smoke. Barrington estimated there was somewhere from $1,000 to $1,500 in damage.
Classes were cancelled in Tucker Hall for the remainder of the day, although people were allowed to enter the building. No one was allowed in the area near the men’s room because the hallway outside the restroom had to be cleaned.
Classes in the building began today although the affected men’s room will still be closed.
Lt. Louis Wichers of FAMU PD said the fire was definitely not an accident, but he said the University was very fortunate that there was not any more damage.
“Once it’s (the fire) out of control, you can’t predict what it’ll do,” Wichers said.
Wichers advises anyone who has information concerning the fire to call Arson Control at 1 (877) 662-7766. A sign posted on the burnt restroom said people could also get in contact with Detective Greg Lane at (850) 413-3904.
Angela A. Green and Mackenzie Turberville contributed to this article.
Contact Brandon D. Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org